Watson Coleman, Pallone, and Kim Announce Financial Relief for Families Still Recovering from Superstorm Sandy will Advance in House
Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06), and Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-03) announced today that two appropriations bills in the House of Representatives will include critical relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy and municipalities in New Jersey.
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee granted the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development the authority to waive the requirement for New Jersey homeowners to pay back federal disaster relief aid, also known as clawbacks, as a result of Superstorm Sandy. Many homeowners were encouraged to take benefits only to be told later they were required to repay some or all the funds. Sandy-related clawbacks worth as much as $100 million dollars have impacted more than 2,000 homeowners in New Jersey. The Homeland Appropriations Subcommittee included full forgiveness for more than $30 million worth of Community Disaster Loans made to 21 New Jersey municipalities after Superstorm Sandy. The bills are expected to receive a final vote on the House floor in the coming months.
“America came together after Superstorm Sandy to help New Jerseyans through a very dark period,” said Congresswoman Watson Coleman. “Now almost a decade later, some families face the prospect of having to pay back money that was erroneously given to them through no fault of their own, even when the family member who received them has passed away, their home was foreclosed upon, or they filed bankruptcy. This is especially painful for New Jersey as it climbs out of the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. The inclusion of this provision is the result of cohesive work of the New Jersey delegation and will go a long way to help rectify this situation and help families put some of the lingering pain of Sandy behind them.”
“Superstorm Sandy decimated New Jersey families and towns, and they are still on the hook for millions of dollars through no fault of their own. The struggle to repay loans has only been exacerbated by the recent economic downturn and COVID-19 pandemic,” Congressman Pallone said. “During this difficult time of economic uncertainty, it’s simply unfair for federal agencies to ask for repayment on tens of millions of dollars in loans and grants from Sandy. That’s why I helped lead the fight to secure this important financial reprieve for our state. I want to thank my colleagues in the New Jersey delegation for their work for our state. I’m proud that we were able to secure this relief for our communities during the appropriations process and look forward to voting on these bills soon.”
“We can’t say that we’ve truly recovered from Superstorm Sandy until every one of our neighbors is back on their feet,” said Congressman Kim. “This relief that I’ve been proud to fight for, alongside Congressman Pallone, Congresswoman Watson Coleman, and advocates like the New Jersey Organizing Project, would help bring closure and security nearly a decade after that disastrous storm. I’m proud to be a part of this effort and look forward to getting this done for every New Jerseyan still fighting to put this tragedy behind them.”
“Even though it has been almost nine years, the wounds left by Hurricane Sandy on New Jersey remain raw,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell. “Today New Jerseyans are still recovering both emotionally and financially from the storm. Seeking loan repayment from many of them just as our state is beginning to find normalcy from the pandemic is unwise and unwarranted. Thanks to the leadership of Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr., Bonnie Watson Coleman and Andy Kim, members of our congressional delegation have come together to give our neighbors flexibility and peace of mind that they will not face another financial burden. We will keep working as one to see this reprieve is soon put into law.”
“Superstorm Sandy devastated Highlands. Even all these years later, the Borough is still recovering. Forgiving the millions of dollars in Community Disaster Loans would be a major step in finally putting Sandy behind us,” said Mayor Carolyn Broullon. “I want to thank Congressman Pallone and the New Jersey Delegation for continuing to fight for Highlands and it's residents on this much needed relief.”
“We cannot thank Congressman Pallone and the New Jersey Congressional Delegation enough for never forgetting about Union Beach and the havoc Super Storm Sandy created for the Borough and it's residents,” said Mayor Charlie Cocuzza. “CDL forgiveness means Union Beach can move forward with it's on going recovery without the weight of hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal loan debt and the threat of clawbacks for homeowners.”
“Almost 9 years later, Atlantic Highlands is still recovering from Superstorm Sandy. Community Disaster Loan forgiveness for the Borough and homeowners will go a long way in helping to ease the burden of our residents. I want to thank Congressman Pallone and the New Jersey Congressional Delegation for their continued efforts,” said Mayor Loretta Gluckstein.
“To this day, Keansburg is still feeling the effects of Superstorm Sandy. Community Disaster Loan forgiveness means our residents won't have to be on the hook for millions of dollars on top of the devastation they have already had to endure,” said Mayor George Hoff. “We are grateful to Congressman Pallone for his leadership on this impactful legislation.”
“We are grateful to the New Jersey Congressional delegation for any action to forgive Community Disaster Loans,” said Lisa Stevens of Little Egg Harbor. “Many of the families in our community are still struggling and do not need to be burdened with any more cost due to Superstorm Sandy.”
“As a Superstorm Sandy survivor, I know the struggles of navigating the Broken Recovery System. For eight years, families have fought to get back in their homes, and many are now forced to repay grant money through no fault of their own,” said Jody Stewart of the New Jersey Organizing Project. “We are grateful for all assistance we are getting from our Representatives to put closure on clawbacks and allow families to close the book on the storm.”
“I am grateful that Congressman Pallone and the New Jersey congressional delegation work for best interests of Sandy survivors and continue to support us by fighting for clawback forgiveness,” said Rose Steward of Long Branch. “Clawback forgiveness will give Sandy survivors the opportunity to finally become whole and put the storm behind us.”
In April, Pallone led an appropriations request letter to provide relief for families currently required to pay back disaster relief funds they received after Superstorm Sandy. The letter was signed by the entire New Jersey delegation in the House of Representatives.
Last year, the New Jersey delegation secured a one-year reprieve in those recoupment efforts for debt owed to the federal government. The lawmakers also requested cancellation of unforgiven Community Disaster Loans (CDLs) made to municipalities throughout New Jersey to help them recover from the storm.